“At the community meetings, the conversation focused on residents’ experiences with campus police and possible safety alternatives to the program. On Tuesday night, at a discussion led by the parent group COFI Power PAC, the grandmother of a student who was tased by campus police, told her story. (There is an ongoing lawsuit against the school.)
‘I often hear people say that the purpose of school resource officer program is for police officers to build healthy relationships with students,’ said Denise Dyer, whose granddaughter was tased by a school police officer in 2019 at Marshall High School in an incident caught on camera. ‘But why? Why can’t our children build relationships with counselors, social workers, teachers?’
Tuesday’s conversation went on for more than two hours as parents and grandparents of Chicago Public Schools students delved into their own families’ experiences. While those experiences did not make headlines, family members described how they were negative and stressful.
Rosalva Martinez said her son had been involved in an altercation with a longtime bully in elementary school that was broken up by a school police officer who then placed her son in handcuffs.
‘That’s social-emotional trauma for a child to be sitting there and having handcuffs on,’ said Martinez, who said she saw many similar instances at her son’s elementary school in Wicker Park. She now has a daughter at Lane Tech College Prep, where the school council voted to remove officers this past summer. ‘I am adamant – I do not want police in the schools.’
Other parents made clear that, while they weren’t against police altogether, they wanted them to function as they would on the street. ‘I don’t need police to be sanctioned, or to live inside my home on a daily basis,’ said one speaker. ‘But if I need to call you, it will be great for you to come out.’
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